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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kacee Cox Steps Into Justin's World

The sports definition of the term "cup of coffee" is that of a player who makes a brief venture into a professional sport. The phrase is usually used in baseball, but if any softball player ever earned the description, it would be former St. John's star Kacee Cox.

Following her collegiate career's end in 2012, Cox joined the NPF's NY/NJ Comets mid-season in 2013. Playing sparingly without much chance to prove her worth, that partial season was her only appearance in professional softball, her "cup of coffee".

Cox enjoyed the finest seasons of that excellent collegiate career in the latter part of her years as a Red Storm. 2010 was undoubtedly her finest offensive season, with a .400+ batting average; a career-high forty-six RBI; a .649 slugging percentage; and the only stolen base of her career.

An injury extended her career by an extra year, but didn't hamper her talent in the very least. She returned by putting up a career-high number in home runs (14) and leading her team in hits, RBIs, and walks.

Now having begun her coaching career, Kacee was great to interview and gave an excellent perspective on many things. Some of the topics we discussed included...

  • Why she joined the Red Storm
  • Coming back from an injury her senior season
  • Her favorite career memories
  • Her brief time in the NPF
  • and more!


Justin’s World: Tell me how you got started playing softball. How old were you when you began playing?
Kacee Cox: I’m not quite sure actually. I think I was at an age where I wanted to try every sport and softball seemed to stick. I started when I was 5.

Justin’s World: What attracted you to St. John’s? What specifically made you say “THIS is where I want to go to school and play ball”?
Kacee Cox: I really wanted to go away to college and when I visited the campus it felt right. I wanted to go somewhere with something to do when I wasn’t playing rather than just the middle of nowhere.

Justin’s World: Describe to me what it’s like to know that your name is going to be all throughout the St. John’s history & record books for good? What kind of feeling does that give you?
Kacee Cox: I’m not really sure; I don’t think that has dawned on me yet or sunk in. I mean, I’m proud of myself for my achievements and knowing how many people have played before me, but I hope one day someone comes along and does just as well or better. That just means the program is moving in the right direction.

Justin’s World: After an injury took away your would-be senior season, you were able to redshirt and come back in 2012. And then all you did was put up your one of your finest offensive campaigns to date. Tell me what about that year off made you even *better* when you came back.
Kacee Cox: To be honest, I was very nervous taking that year off and not actually being able to do much. I had really gathered a great understanding of the mental game my junior year which directly led to my success. I had found a specific state of mind to play in that was hard to acquire. I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to replicate that and remember “how to be” when I got back. I knew I could get my athletic side back into gear quick but I wasn’t sure how to get that mental side back, especially after being so upset with my ridiculous injury that became a bigger deal than I thought. Because I couldn’t do anything physically myself, like hold a bat with my right hand or throw a ball, sadly enough (all over a stupid pinky finger); I started to focus on helping my teammates in practice to my coach’s request which helped me tremendously. I was in charge of the “mirror” drill which broke down our 7 steps of the swing. I think doing this helped me more than I thought. I also worked on one-handed swings with my left arm (my weak side at the time) as much as my mind could handle.

Justin’s World: What would you call your favorite moment or memory from your career, at any point?
Kacee Cox: I have 3 honestly.
1. I would say receiving my Big East Player of the Year award because it was not expected and because of who I “beat” to get it
2. Beating Syracuse my last year in the Big East Championship to make it to the semi-finals.
3. Receiving the NFCA Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week award because it symbolized so much to me at that point in my season. I was struggling a lot up to that point in my season. I pretty much had the worst week of playing in my life the week prior and I was a mental mess (1-15, 6 strikeouts). Going into that week that I won, I really took some serious time to myself and thought about what I had to change and what I was neglecting about my game that was interfering with my success. And not a surprise at all, it was all mental. I had zero focus on my tasks at hand in that moment and was so worried about failure and that I was running out of time in my senior year that I forgot to slow the game down and stop thinking and focus on one thing at a time. I was a completely different player that next week.

Justin’s World: How did you first hear about the NPF? When did playing in the league become something you really thought “Hey, I’d like to do that”?
Kacee Cox: One of my best friends from home actually played in the league. And when I graduated, my coach asked me if I wanted to tryout for a team but I wasn’t really sure at the time. A year passed by and my coach asked me again because a team had just formed in the northeast (the Comets). I had not done anything for about a year at that point and my coach asked me 2 weeks before the tryout. I pretty much said screw it and worked hard for those 2 weeks and went for it.

Justin’s World: After an abbreviated season with the Comets, your professional playing career was over. What factors played into you deciding not to play another season in the pros?
Kacee Cox: It wasn’t exactly my choice to be honest. Being an alternate, I was already the low man on the totem pole. So when the team folded and changed locations, owners, and coaches, they pretty much let everyone go to start fresh. I was invited to a private tryout, but was not chosen to be on the roster. 

Justin’s World: Was collegiate coaching always your goal after your playing career ended? Is coaching something you’re always wanted to do?
Kacee Cox: Yes it was; I studied sports management for both undergrad and my masters.

Justin’s World: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Kacee Cox: Slow the game down, have a short term memory for both good and bad, control the controllables and play in a way that no would know if you’re playing the worst game of your life or the best. Staying even mentally is the best way to relax and focus.

Justin’s World: Conversely, what one piece of advice would you give to young players, or even more specifically, young catchers, that want to be where you were one day?
Kacee Cox: Slow the game down, be a good teammate, practice the details of the game that put you above the rest and never take a day of softball for granted. It will all pass by in a flash and you will regret not always playing with everything you had. Playing softball in college is the best job you could ever have.

Justin’s World: Let’s end things with my signature question! You’re on a deserted island, but you can take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you take?
Kacee Cox: A friend, a knife, and a blanket

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